Critical Writing
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Abstract (in English): 

Avatar r is derived from the Sanskrit avat ā ra , “descent,” and can roughly Hindu deity’s voluntary and temporary incarnation as an animal or In 1980s science fiction literature, a user’s engagement with cyberspace described along the same lines: as a descent into another realm (see cyberspace). Unlike Hindu deities, science fiction’s cyberspace users had to split themselves in two. The real body would be left behind in the real world, and the user’s consciousness would move through cyberspace. This is, for example, how the protagonist of William Gibson’s hugely influential fl novel Neuromancer r (1984) navigates cyberspace. Neal Stephenson’s novel Snow Crash h (1992) is often credited with popularizing the idea that the user’s consciousness does not float fl freely through cyberspace but is fi xed in a virtual body, an avatar r .

This conceptual development within literature is mirrored by fi films such as Tron n (Steven Lisberger, 1982), a fantasy in which a colorful cyberspace inspired by arcade games is fully entered—with no manifestations of the user left behind in the real world— and The Lawnmower Man n (Brett Leonard, 1992), a more realistically flavored piece of science fiction in which virtual reality equipment and avatars are employed in order to enter cyberspace (see virtual realit y). The hugely popular film fi Avatar r (James Cameron, 2009) strengthened the cultural trope of the avatar as a virtual body inhabited by a motionless user in order to enter a fantastic realm (in Cameron’s movie the jungle world of the moon Pandora). Importantly, the film’s protagonist gains through his avatar a body physically be translated as a human on Earth.

(Johns Hopkins University Press)

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Sumeya Hassan